Four steps we may take to fight pride – putting on Christ’s humility
Pride is an abomination to God as it is an attack on His glory. We don’t see our self-exaltation as an attack on God, but we should. When we exalt ourselves, we are encouraging others to look to us as a source of good. “Look at how wise I am.” Did you see what I did there?” “Watch how I can fix this.” We set ourselves up to fail because we may not possibly fulfill the needs of all people. Our focus ought to be pointing people to Christ.
We need to align ourselves with God’s war on pride. But how? The Apostle Paul provides a four-step process for ridding ourselves of pride. Read Philippians 2:1-11. The main thought we need to pull from this text with regards to fighting pride is: Avoid the prideful sin of being self-sufficient by living a life of dependency on God and serving others.
Step 1) Acknowledge the work of Christ in your life
If … the “if” in this verse does not express any doubt, but on the contrary is to be considered as a strong affirmation; as there is consolation in Christ, as there is the comfort of love, etc. It is difficult to give the force of these expressions; it is a call to recognize what is good. Paul is appealing on the basis of these statements.
Of course, we have encouragement in Christ, it is only from Christ we have encouragement, as Paul writes, without the hope found in Christ, we would be men most miserable.
Of course, we have consolation (comfort) in love. Our happiness is almost all centered in love. It is when we love a parent, a wife, a child, a sister, a neighbor, that we have the highest earthly enjoyment. Hatred is a passion full of misery; love an emotion full of joy.
Of course, we have the fellowship of the Spirit: The word “fellowship—κοινωνία koinōnia—means that which is common to two or more; those that participate together. The idea here is, that among Christians, there is a participation in the influences of the Holy Spirit; we share in some degree the feelings, views, and joys of the Holy Spirit.
Of course, we have affection and compassion.
Whenever we stop and think about these blessings of salvation, we ought to be humbled. We did nothing to gain these blessings. They all purchased by the blood of Christ and given to us by His unmerited favor.
If these exist in our life we need to consider what Paul says next. The Apostle continues appealing to the church he founded:
Make my joy complete (Phil. 2:2)
If these are true, Paul asks for them to help him. If the Philippians want to help Paul in his sufferings, if they want to bring him joy, they need to consider his request. He helps them realize that they may direct their affection, compassion, and fellowship to the Apostle Paul. They need to consider his sorrow and desire to fill him up with joy. The way they may fill up his joy is to do what he tells the to do in the upcoming verses; which is to be humble like Christ.
Paul’s aim is that they look to Jesus and adopt the attitude that He exhibits (Phil. 2:5).
Step 2) Strive For Unity
Being of the same mind is to have the same opinion or conclusion on a matter, to agree with one another. The same “agape” love to the same objects, and the same love one for another. Though our opinions might differ on some points, we still need to be united in love.
This text is similar to 1 Corinthians 1:10 which says, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”
We are to be in perfect unity of affections, unity in our opinion, and united and intent on one purpose! Imagine no discord, disunity, and no strife in the church. Imagine all of us working in harmony; intent on the same purpose—the salvation of souls.
Unity is insisted upon in the New Testament. Jesus prays to His Father that we be unified. Unity comes from the word of God and is essential to our sanctification. Read Jesus’ prayer:
For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:19-21)
What works against unity in the church? Independence. Independence is being self-reliant, self-governing, and acting sovereignly. Being independent is being one with oneself, not one with the body. It is one thing to attend church; it is another thing to be in unity with the church. An independently acting person does not want to be held accountable. Holding one another accountable is an act of love.
It is impossible for an independent Christian to be in submission to the elders, (the Bible says the elders are responsible for our soul). It is difficult for other Christians to encourage and help those that are in the “household of faith” when people are independent. Being an independent Christian is rebellious and prideful.
Step 3) Deny Your Self
Never be opposed to each other; never act from separate interests, do nothing to promote your reputation. We cannot be intent on one purpose if we all have a self-centered purpose. We must deny ourselves and rally around the Gospel.
The command prohibits all attempts to secure anything over others by mere physical strength, by intellect or financial, by rivalry, or to fulfill our angry passions, or with the spirit of ambition. We are not to attempt to do anything by showing that we have more talent, more courage, or more zeal.
Or empty conceit (Phil. 2:3)
The word used here—kenodoxia occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means properly empty pride, or glory, and is descriptive of a vain and hollow parade. It is to have “any vain opinion about oneself”— The idea seems to be that of self-esteem; a desire to honor ourselves, to attract attention, to win praise, to make ourselves uppermost, or foremost, or the main object.
We need to stop drawing attention to ourselves. Who among us goes a single day without, in some respect, desiring to display our self? Who never has any wish to exhibit their talents, abilities, or learning? We may even try to show off our humility!
Why is Facebook so popular? It promotes the vain and hollow parade of self.
Step 4) Promote the Well-Being of Others
Looking after the interests of others is very open-ended. All that is specified is “your own (something)” or “the other’s (something).” The verse could read: “Let each of you look not only to your financial affairs, or your property, or your own family, or your health, or your reputation, or your education, or your success, or your happiness—don’t just think about that alone, don’t just have desires about that alone, don’t just work toward that alone; but look to the financial affairs and property and family and health, and reputation, and education, and success, and happiness of others.”
We are not at liberty to live for ourselves while disregarding the wants of others. We are not to any improper interference in the business of others, which is to be “busy-bodies in other people’s matters.” Having wise discretion is necessary.
Where Christian duty and kindness require us to look after the concerns of others, there should be great care to be compassionate, caring and discrete (not gossip). We should imagine ourselves in their position; we should desire that it would not be them, but us who are suffering.
We are, therefore, to promote, in every way possible, the welfare of every other member of the church. If they go astray, we are to bring them back; if they are in error, we are to instruct them; if they are in trouble, we are to aid them.
We are to encourage one another while it is called today. We are to pray with one another. Encourage one another. Love one another. We are a body, and when one in the body is not doing well, we should all be suffering.
Attract the eyes of God
The best and the only true correction of the fault of pride is humility. Humility consists in measuring ourselves by the truth. It is a willingness to take the place which we ought to take in the sight of God and man; which is the place of a servant.
If we have gifts, we have them, so we may serve others and give God glory. We have nothing to brag about since which one us willed to be born with certain intelligence, skills, height or genetics. We need to be humble. God gives us life, breath, and all things. We are foolish to brag about how special we are when God is the source of our talents, strength, and ability.
The eyes of God continually scan the earth. We need to attract the eyes of God so that He stops and looks. His eyes scan, but His eyes also stop and look at what God finds attractive.
Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isiah 66:1-2)
Nothing escapes God’s notice, but one thing captures His gaze.